Owensboro Innovation Academy

Owensboro Public Schools

The controversy over Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed pension reform has spilled over into academics. The uncertainty about the financial impact of pension changes has derailed plans for a unique new middle school program in Owensboro.

The increased costs that local school districts are expected to shoulder from pension reforms have put a halt, at least temporarily, to the launch of the Owensboro Innovation Middle program tentatively scheduled to launch in Fall 2018.

Alorica Owensboro Facebook

The California-based customer service company that opened its Owensboro office in July is putting down roots as a major corporate citizen.

Alorica already has 200 employees working in Owensboro in the former BB&T building that it’s renovating.

Company spokesman Ken Muche said 500 employees will be in the Owensboro offices by the end of this year and employment will reach 840 in three years.

Muche says the company is dedicated to having a long-term positive impact in every community where it locates. That’s done by partnering with regional nonprofits and encouraging employees to participate in the partnerships.

Dave Kirk, Owensboro Public Schools

Owensboro Innovation Academy is adding another new opportunity to a public high school that’s already breaking the mold. The school is partnering with Brescia University to give students the chance to earn a two-year associates degree while they’re getting their high school diploma.

Students will be able to choose from four tracks at Brescia. Two of the tracks will cover basic college requirements for either an associate of arts or science degree. Owensboro Innovation Academy Director Beth Benjamin says the other two tracks are more specialized.               

“One is a health studies degree, which would be their general education degree plus some of those science-specific and health-specific courses that they would need to go on and continue their nursing degree or any other medical degree. And the engineering is the first two years of their pre-engineering degree.”

Owensboro Middle School

Owensboro Middle School is likely to be separated into two schools by the next academic year. 

The middle school already has a south campus for grades five and six and a north campus for grades seven and eight. The two buildings are separated by a football field.

 

Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Nick Brake says there are some good reasons to change that set-up.

“Part of the challenge that we’ve seen with that is, it’s very difficult for one principal to govern both schools, to work with both faculties, and you have an age group that has a lot of variation.”

Innovation is Key at New Owensboro High School

Aug 26, 2015
Rhonda J. Miller

Students are changing classes at the new regional high school, Owensboro Innovation Academy. There’s a lot of “change” and a lot of “new” at this school. 

First of all, it’s not in a typical high school building. It’s in the Owensboro Centre for Business and Research.

The principal, Beth Benjamin, says she’s called the “director.”  And Benjamin says teachers aren’t called teachers.

“They’re called facilitators. And that is because we want students to take ownership of their own learning. So they kind of determine what they need to know and then the teachers are there to facilitate that learning and then to provide any direct instruction that’s needed. But it’s definitely a team effort.”

Superintendent of Owensboro schools Nick Brake says the facilitator role encourages respect for students.

“It’s not so much the sage on the stage where everybody bows to the teacher. It really allows more of an adult-to-adult, peer-to-peer type of relationship and the students have to respect that, in the same way they would respect any other adult relationship.”

Owensboro Aims to Attract Entrepreneurs

Aug 18, 2015
Rhonda J. Miler

Owensboro is aiming to attract talented entrepreneurs by highlighting its revitalized downtown, new riverfront,  convention center, new restaurants, arts organizations and good schools. 

Joe Berry is vice president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation. He says public-private partnerships like the Owensboro Centre for Business and Research provide office and laboratory space, including $2 million in shared lab equipment, and that helps attract talent.

The basic goal for economic development in any region is generally to go out and attract big manufacturers that create lots of jobs.  

That’s still important. But  Berry says there’s a big advantage in tapping into the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit.

"If you look at economic data and trends that are emerging around the globe, we are, quite frankly, in a global war for talent," said Berry.

"Regions that are able to attract and retain talent are the ones that are going to remain economically competitive in the long run," he said.

Berry says it starts with local talent launching startups in technology, life sciences and traditional small business.  A dozen of those companies are in the 37,000-square-foot Owensboro Centre for Business and Research. 

"An evolving and growing part of our local economy is companies that are operating in this kind of space," said Berry. "So the purpose of this business incubator is to truly grow and foster those kinds of new companies in this region and help further diversify our economy and create the companies of tomorrow."